Book Review: Sharing The Good News With Mormons by Eric Johnson and Sean McDowell
Let me describe this book with one key word: practical.
In fact, I would dare say it is perhaps the most practical book with an evangelism focus that I’ve ever read. Perhaps this achievement in practicality really comes down to one thing—the format.
Despite being less than 300 pages, Sharing The Good News With Mormons has 6 sections and 24 chapters, meaning the average chapter is about 12 pages long. On top of that, each chapter is written by a different author who in some way has garnered much knowledge and experience ministering to Mormons.
Think about it. Each of these experts boiled down their years of experience into the best 12 pages of advice they had to offer. Any one of these chapters is well worth listening to, and this book offers 24 of them. The practical value this book offers is simply astonishing.
In a sense, the reader will receive a shotgun blast of information. One simply cannot employ every single piece of advice, and that’s okay. The editors compiled these chapters knowing that readers will resonate with some chapters and not with others. Every evangelistic method in this book has been proven to be effective in the author’s experience, so any method that resonates with the reader will be a valuable tool to implement immediately.
Additionally, there is a “spotlight” after every section highlighting a specific ministry to Mormons. These spotlights are short and are actually quite informative. They provide real-life examples of how to minister to Mormons and introduce the readers to ministries that have been reaching out to Mormons for decades in some cases.
Some may think that a practical book such as this may not be useful for learning basic Mormon theology and culture, but that is not the case. In many ways, it serves as an excellent introduction to Mormon thought. For example, the reader will hear many of the authors reference and address the “Great Apostasy”. Any reader will come away knowing this is an important piece of Mormon theology and be ready to research this topic further.
In the rest of this review, I will highlight 5 chapters that resonated with me.
The Christ-Centered Approach
Rob Bowman has spent the last decade researching Mormonism on an academic level while also ministering to Mormons on an individual level. He raises an important point. Most ex-Mormons leave their faith and then want nothing to do with Jesus in any form he might take. They are far more prone to become agnostic or atheist than consider the Jesus of orthodox Christianity.
Rob expertly slices through potential objections the ex-Mormon may give to believing in Jesus. Just because the ex-Mormon has seen through a fake Jesus, does not mean there was never a real Jesus. Rob recommends defending some basic premises about Jesus like the fact that he actually existed and was crucified. From there the evangelist can apply their resurrection apologetics and show Jesus to be more than fiction, and a real man in history who really is God.
The Case-Making Approach
Mormonism rises and falls on Joseph Smith. In this chapter, J Warner Wallace builds a devastating case exposing Smith as the fraud he was. If I were a Mormon, this chapter probably would have challenged my faith more than any other.
Wallace offers over twenty different points of evidence implicating Joseph Smith. For example, in many cases, Joseph Smith displays a clear lack of understanding of the timeline in Scripture and even events in History. Smith, who claims to be restoring the corrupted scriptures, quotes the KJV and specifically portions that have now been shown to be mistranslated. Smith writes characters who reference “The Bible” when they supposedly lived hundreds of years before Jesus was even born. And perhaps the most obvious piece of evidence is Smith’s inability to accurately translate “The Book of Abraham”. Smith had a piece of papyrus that he supposedly translated, but now that we are able to translate the language, we can see that Smith didn’t have a clue as to what the papyrus actually said.
These are just a few points, but all together, Wallace’s case against Joseph Smith is highly convincing.
The Compassion Approach
The chapter by Becky Walker was a stand out. She specifically targets reaching Mormon women and points out that many women she’s ministered to are not interested in considering arguments like Wallace’s case against Joseph Smith—at least not at first.
She has had a fruitful ministry simply showing compassion to these women, loving them, caring for them, and even pampering them. It is through the relationships she builds with these women that she is able to effectively point them to the truth.
The Columbo Approach
Not all Mormons are experts on their own theology. Many of them are pretty ordinary people. Lynn Wilder asks the reader to keep this in mind as they engage with Mormons.
While Mormons usually will gladly talk about their faith, they do not appreciate “contention” and dislike arguing about deeper issues of theology. She recommends implementing Greg Koukl’s “Columbo Tactic” of asking sincere, clarifying questions to understand what this specific Mormon believes. She recommends keeping conversations to 7 basic topics such as the Word of God and Jesus. Simply ask them what they believe, ask clarifying questions, and then point them to scripture asking them how they can reconcile what they believe with the Bible.
The Free Book Approach
This is a truly ingenious outreach method practiced by Eric Johnson and Randy Sweet. They have noticed that Mormons, like many people, do not read or even take free literature such as gospel tracts or small books. So, they started doing something quite radical. They give away popular Mormon books.
They have found that Mormons are far more likely to take a book written by a Mormon. They specifically like to offer the book called “The Miracle of Forgiveness” which has been a popular and controversial Mormon book for decades. This book was written by an Apostle and later President of the LDS Church. Giving away this book creates far more fertile ground for the evangelist to have fruitful discussions with the Mormons.
Even if Johnson and Sweet don’t get an opportunity to converse with the Mormon receiving the book, they highlight portions of the book that are sure to get the Mormon thinking, stuff a gospel tract in the book, and point them to their website.
There are a lot of Mormons, and Christians need to be prepared to engage them with the gospel. Whether you have Mormon neighbors, co-workers, or they simply show up at your door, you can begin sharing the gospel with them with wisdom and sincerity. If you want to be prepared, Sharing The Good News With Mormons is the best place to start.